It started out as an easy day. When the phone rang at eight o’clock in the morning, with our friend Jimmy (Dimitris) Papanik on the other end, we were still in the hotel room packing our gear. Jimmy lives in the city of Grevena, about an hour and a half away. He was already on the mountain. Embarrassed, we finished packing up, ate breakfast, and headed up the mountain.
Our original plan was to go to Olympos, to sleep a night at the refuge on the south side and to ski some easy warmup runs. However, after a rapid fire sequence of accidents on Olympos, including the death of a beloved member of the Greek mountaineering community, we decided to change the plan. Going back to Athens wasn’t an option. Six months of boiling summer heat had driven us to madness. Smolikas, the second highest summit in Greece, was an extra 2 hours of driving, but the best chance to get our fix.